User Experience (UX)
David Addison
by David Addison
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Website dimensions

05/11/2010
Website dimensions

From 2000 to 2008 we preached the benefits of designing websites for 800 x 600 resolution monitors. Our research as of the writing of this blog article suggests that almost 86% of the computer browsing population has a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768. A large percentage of the population runs at 1280px wide or larger. This is due to the low cost availability of wide-screen flat-panel LCD monitors. We’re purchasing quality Dell 22” wide screen LCD displays for $190ish. Dirigo’s stock 3 column dimensions are:

  • 964px wide overall
  • 200px left navigation with a 10 px margin on the right
  • 200px right navigation with a 10px margin on the left
  • 564px center well content area with zero margin (The margin is maintained by the left and right navigation elements.)

Internal widths are adjusted as necessary. A content well width of 564px (964px overall) has the highest possible factorial of relative dimension. This means that the greatest number of elements will fit evenly into a container of this width (e.g. 2, 3, 4, or 6 items across). In a two column layout the content area becomes 764px. A single well would be 964px. Overall dimensions including drop shadows should not exceed 978px (this is the upper threshold for browsers running on a 1024 x 768 monitor in windows).

Apple Computer has decided on a width of 980px. Microsoft was briefly set to 995px before settling on 930px. Anything less than 995px is considered safe. Full or fluid width websites can be problematic if trying to control the usability and aesthetics.

What about color?

The overwhelming majority of computers use 24- or 32-bit hardware to display 16,777,216 different colors. As of 2007 most computer hardware used 16-bit display hardware which provides for a maximum of 65,536 different colors. Handheld devices and really old computers often use 8-bit color hardware which provide for a maximum of 256 colors.

Only 22 of the 216 colors in the web-safe palette are reliably displayed without inconsistent remapping on 16-bit computer monitors. These 22 colors are termed the "really safe" palette. We encourage the use of really safe colors and try to abide by the 216 "web-safe" colors in font and CSS attributed background colors. With graphical images we design with 16.7 million colors.

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